Speak of the…. iPhone

It’s out.
The iPhone.

– but not here in Denmark…

However, being unable to get one for myself and get first hand knowledge doesn’t keep me from having formed an opinion, if not about the iPhone himself, then at least of the idea of it and the hype surrounding it.


It’s interesting, first off, to note the “campaign” for this gadget (more on that term later) – the Mac circles have been murmuring about an Apple phone for years, yet Apple themselves never said anything about it before the stunning presentation of a fully functional iPhone by mr. Jobs himself at one of his famous turtleneck stage performances.
Having a sort-of cult following as Apple does pays off; such attetion as was built by the rumors (neither started nor supported by Apple in any, least of all economical, way) is hard to create with even the best commercial campaign…

When the product finally hit the streets it was, of course, impressive – wether you want to love or hate it, noone with any interest in tech stuff, devices, computers or design is unaffected.
What is funny, though, is that the most innovative features (in my opinion anyhow) are hardly the topic of any of the numerous reviews, so I’ll try and point at some of them:

– the multi-touch display. This is the first time ever that any device with a touch screen as its primary interface is available to the general public, let alone at a price that is reasonable (if indeed on the heavier side of reason), and the ability to interface with it using multiple touch points is nothing short of brilliant. All the same, most reviewers seem to take this interface for granted…
edit: – it has been brought to my attention that certain camcorders do have touch screens at consumer levels, and PDAs and smartphones have been pointed at. I admit I didn’t think of the camcorder angle (one might argue that it’s not a camcorder’s primary input device, though), but I intentionally left out PDAs and smartphones; the former is pretty much useless without a stylus and hence not a true touch screen from the consumer’s point of view (even though technically it is), and the latter have a numeric keypad as its primary input device…

– The iPhone is not really a gadget. I mean, let’s be honest, when we talk about a gadget we mean an implement which does all manner of technically advanced, yet mostly useless, stuff, but really none of the iPhone’s features can be called truly useless, leading me to the next point:

– It’s not a cell phone. This machine is a dedicated communication device; pretty much only the on-board iPod is not directly targeted at modern, web-based communication – sporting several applications needed for this, such as email, bluetooth, text messaging (with a graphic interface for keeping track of “sms conversations” – cannot believe nobody thought of this before), voicemail browsing (ditto), picture sharing, full blown web browser, and an API solution that will allow for additional functionality to be added user-side. Not to mention it’s really a computer, running an actual system (OS X), making it the first “cell phone” which will truly be updateable and upgradeable…

– And, of course, the user experience. Another first: breaking with the common numeric keypad as the primary input device – let’s face it, how often do we actually use the key pad for punching in a phone number the old school way? Most of the time, the limited number of keys are subject to advanced finger acrobatics to force them to fill tasks not even remotely connected with their nature.
The iPhone vision also shows a great understanding of how a hand-held communication device is used – for example, integrating maps with address & phone number search and info, and that with the telephone function, et cetera.

Even though it’s obvious I’ll put the disclaimer in words: I haven’t tried it myself, the above is based on Apple’s own info and user feedback online.
Even if this device eventually fails however, it has already pointed to one thing: We need to think about how we use technology to communicate in a whole new way.

Oh, and before anyone writes it off because it doesn’t have a video camera or MMS capabilities or because the feature list is shorter than your average Blackberry, let’s remember that many people laughed when Apple launched a desktop computer without a floppy drive, or when we first saw a portable mp3 player – the two products that turned Apple around and pointed the way for everyone else in the business today.

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